German astronaut to join space station crew

29th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

29 March 2005, MOSCOW - German astronaut Thomas Reiter is to join the 11th long-term crew of the International Space Station in July for a seven-month stint, it was announced on Tuesday.

29 March 2005

MOSCOW - German astronaut Thomas Reiter is to join the 11th long-term crew of the International Space Station in July for a seven-month stint, it was announced on Tuesday.

"The arrival of Reiter on the station is planned for July and the second shuttle flight," said cosmonaut Sergei Krikalyov in Moscow, referring to the restoration of NASA's space shuttle programme after the 2003 Columbia tragedy in which seven astronauts died.

Krikalyov and NASA astronaut John Phillips are set to replace Russian Salizhan Sharipov and his US colleague Leroy Chiao as the 11th long-term ISS crew in April.

Reiter's arrival in July will then allow the three-man team to engage in more intensive scientific research, Krikalyov said.

The European Space Agency (ESA) said an exact date for Reiter's arrival aboard the ISS had yet to be decided. "At the moment the times for Reiter's flights are being worked out. Nothing has been completely committed to," said ESA spokesperson Alain Fourneir-Sicre.

Reiter, who will be the first long-term occupant of the ISS who is neither a Russian nor US national, has already spent 179 days aboard the Mir space station as a flight engineer.

The ISS has been serviced solely by Russian space shuttles for the past two years. Logistic restrictions have meant that the number of long-term ISS inhabitants has during this time been cut from three to two.

All NASA shuttles have been grounded since the Columbia disaster in order to work on improving safety.

Those improvements face their first test in May with the flight of the shuttle Discovery, which will dock with the ISS.

It is planned that Reiter will be then transported to the ISS on the second post-Columbia shuttle flight, aboard the Atlantis.

DPA

Subject: German news

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